Letters to the Editor

Not sold on HOT lanes

In the March 16 edition of the Auburn Reporter, Mark Klaas wrote, telling us the HOT lanes were here to stay. He wrote about them as a success story, which is exactly what the Washington State Department of Transportation would like everyone to believe.

But are they really?

The basis for this assertion was that in the last quarter of 2011, three years after they were installed, revenues exceeded expenditures by $12,000. Wow. After three years, we have a quarter that apparently showed a profit. Did it? What did it cost to install this system? At that rate, how long will it take to pay it off? I would bet we make a major change to 167 long before we break even.

WSDOT claims the HOT lanes "improve travel times for everyone traveling this corridor." Do they? Only if compared to the HOV lanes that existed prior to HOT lane installation.

Sure, they help those who care to pay extra, but what about the general traveling public? If you are not in the HOT lane, is your travel time reduced over what it would be if that lane was open for all?

HOT lanes exist because the HOV lanes were underutilized. But rather than give them up, this system was created.

I use the southbound HOT lane at 7 in the morning (I have a passenger). On most days I cannot see a single car in front of me. The gap is that large. At any non-rush hour time, HOV/HOT are underutilized, and the general public is penalized because free use of the lane is not available to all. I know on 167 the lane is open after 7 p.m., but don't cross that double-white line.

The HOV/HOT lane should only exist – if at all – during rush hour when the original definition of carpool is being met.

Now DOT has won approval to add another lane to I-405 and, when completed, I-405 will contain two restricted lanes in each direction. If they were only HOV lanes, they too would be underutilized.

So what is the solution? Make them HOT lanes, of course. I'll bet we don't even come close to paying for that lane with the HOT revenues. I sure hope everyone enjoys the way DOT is spending the monies you thought went to rapid transit.

– Dan Shields

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